One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
- past and past participle of spit
1usually spatshistorical A short cloth gaiter covering the instep and ankle.
- ‘You can also take off those spats and gauntlets.’
- ‘Flustered, the blonde boy untied his spats, and took off one of his sock-shoes, sort of hopping around on one foot while doing so.’
- ‘His father was dressed in a rubber macintosh, with thick domestic gloves, spats, and a trilby hat.’
2A cover for the upper part of an aircraft wheel.
Early 19th century: abbreviation of spatterdash.
A petty quarrel.
disturbance, quarrel, scuffle, brawl, affray, tussle, melee, free-for-all, fight, clash, skirmish, brouhaha, riot, uproar, commotionView synonyms
- ‘Family comes first - and petty spats and annoyances are put aside for the greater good of the Shaws.’
- ‘As much as we had spats, I had to admit: the guy is great.’
- ‘He said he believed that most inter-union spats were caused by unhappiness with the service provided, rather than active ‘poaching’ by another union.’
- ‘We've been together for 35 minutes and nary a spat yet.’
- ‘Soon after we met, Slater was in the papers again after his wife allegedly broke a glass over his head during a violent spat.’
- ‘It was the usual routine, after one of their spats Antony would go in angry at her, and come out groveling at her feet to take him back.’
- ‘Her sister never told anyone about their little spats.’
- ‘However, eighteenth-century England was not without its religious spats.’
- ‘Fay and Dave seldom fought and when they did it was usually little spats, bought on by Fay's fiery personality.’
- ‘After a year of bitter public spats with powerful group chieftains - especially in the steel and hotel businesses - Tata ousted them and installed new management.’
- ‘Sandy and I have had spats in the past, and we're going to have them going forward.’
- ‘They often had tiny spats about Maddie's aversion to anything girlish or even hinting towards being a woman.’
- ‘Almost immediately they run into a pointless spat with local tough guys that spirals into a violent feud.’
- ‘God, how I hated to be put in the middle of their spats.’
- ‘There still were the little daily spats between them.’
- ‘Occasionally, there seemed to be a personal edge to their courtroom spats.’
- ‘Since she moved in, most of my spats with Martin over things like dishes and toothpaste tops have virtually disappeared - she just quietly does things.’
- ‘They're typical brothers, so they get into these little spats with each other sometimes, and they separate them.’
- ‘You guys were having another one of you lover's spats, weren't you?’
- ‘After endless bickering, they overcome their spats and, together again (perhaps still drunk), fight their way to a glorious victory.’
verbspats, spatted, spatting[no object]informal
quarrel, disagree, row, squabble, bicker, fight, wrangle, dispute, feud, have a row, bandy words, have words, cross swords, lock horns, be at each other's throatsView synonyms
- ‘The latest trouble to hit Airbus involves a transatlantic spat over aircraft subsidies.’
- 1.1US with object Slap lightly.‘I spatted your hands when you were naughty’
- ‘Kyr spatted the hand that slid toward the plate.’
- ‘Irritated by what she considered backbiting, Inger spatted Ben's hand and turned a cold shoulder to him.’
Early 19th century (originally a US colloquial usage): probably imitative.
The spawn or larvae of shellfish, especially oysters.‘oyster larvae attach themselves as spat to old shells’
Mid 17th century: from Anglo-Norman French, of unknown ultimate origin.
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